Irie Jamboree Pulls Bumper Crowd As Cocoa Tea, Yellow, Beenieman, Ele, Tarrus Shines

NEW YORK – Over 36,000 fun loving reggae lovers, some coming from as far as England, Canada, Jamaica, Dominica and even Japan jammed the Roy Wikins Park not only to rock to Cocoa Tea, Mavado, Beenieman, Elephant Man, Yellowman, Tarrus Riley, Sizzla, Admiral Bailey and others but also to celebrate the Caribbean’s performance at the Beijing Olympics.

Large video screens recreated the Beijing experience of the record runs by Usain ‘Lighting’ Bolt, Shelly Ann Frazier and Melaine Walker and the crowds went wild. Representing our athletes were Aleen Bailey, Chelsea Hammond and Bert Cameron who were present earlier in the day at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Media/VIP Tent to officially honor Usain ‘Lighting’ Bolt and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

At about 9pm, when the MC announced that Mavado would grace the stage at Roy Wilkins Park, this signaled that the 1 year hiatus had finally been over. It was now up to Mavado to deliver for his fans stateside. Flags waved and flashing lighters greeted the gangster from Jamaica’s Cassava Piece community as he made his way on stage and he immediately launched into his catalog of hit songs including “Gully Side”, “Gangster For Life” and “On The Go (Faster Than Bullet). While his hard core fans would say he was awesome, overall his performance lacked the showmanship that would set him apart from his peers. It was probably the ‘bag a long talking’ that took the edge off his set. He clearly has the crowd appeal and the hit songs to boot. He just needs to work on his on stage presentation to make his set more effective.

Mavado at Irie Jamboree 2008
Photo by: Alyson Ione

The Doctor who was coming of an impressive European tour pranced on stage and immediately had the crowd in a tissy as he went through his catalogue of hits songs. The crowd lapped up ever word he said for the duration of his set. Elephant Man, who came dressed in a USA and Jamaica Flag charmed his way into the hearts of dancehall lovers with tracks like “Gully Greppa,” “Signal The Plane” and the popular “Nuh Linga” which he dedicated to Olympic Superstar Usain ‘Lighting” Bolt.

Cocoa Tea
Photo by: Alyson Ione

The top performer of the day however belonged to ‘sweet, sweet’ Cocoa Tea who reeked havoc as he glided through his catalog of hits songs including “Rocking Dolly,” “Riker’s Island,” “I Lost My Sonia,” “Good Life” and more. He captivated the crowd with every track he delivered including ‘Obama’ – dedicated to Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama – which brought thunders applauds from the young, middle age and the elders in the park.

Sizzla kept the vibes flowing with “Black Woman and Child,” “Taking Over” and “Rise Too The Occasion,” while King Yellowman, proved he can still command the stage, delivering classic hits like “I’m Getting Married in the Morning,” “Nobody Move,” “Nobody Get Hurt,” “Zungu Zungu Zeng” and “Mad Over Me that left fans in a frenzy.

New singing sensation Tarrus Riley was another top performer, engaging the crowd with John Legend’s, “Stay With You,” and song of the year “She’s Royal” that brought the crowd to its feet.

Impressive performances were also delivered by Hero, who charmed the crowd with “The Prayer.” Konshens, was on point, RDX, DeMarco, Noddy Virtue, Dwayne Stephens and Soca Queen Alison Alison all left fans begging for more. Canadian Reggae singer Tanya Mullings charmed her new fans with her talent and suave and based on her performance at Jamboree, was able to secure at least two upcoming gigs. New York based reggae singer Elvis D had fans rocking and grooving with his big hit Party Time that has been burning up the airwaves all summer. Ragga Lox, Benny Bwoy and Empire Isis all had their moments in the spotlight.

Among the guests attending Irie Jamboree 2k8 were Irwine Clare, Team Jamaica Bickle; Olympian Chelsea Hammond, Sobers Espirit, Dominica Festival Commission (DFC); Val Cuffe, DFC; Joan Flowers Esq, Candidate for City Council; Kerri Ann Wright, Miss Jamaica/USA and Anthony Turner, Irie Jamboree publicist
Photo by: Alyson Ione

The event, dedicated to Caribbean athletes in the recent Beijing Olympics, climaxed with a video presentation that recreated the Beijing experience of the world record runs by Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Frazier and Melaine Walker. In attendance and representing our athletes were Aleen Bailey, Chelsea Hammond and Bert Cameron. Other celebrity guests who attended the event were Congress Woman Yvette Clarke and her mother the Hon. Una Clarke; dj Capleton; former West Indies cricketer Courtney Walsh; Kerri-Ann Wright, Miss Jamaica/USA 2008; Val Cuffe and Sobers Esprit, executives of the Dominica Festival Commission who travelled all the way from Dominica to attend the event. Much respect to Richie B from Hot 102 FM in Jamaica, Robba Ranx from BBC 1 Xtra from out of London, England; Mikey B from WAVZ 1170 AM Florida, Marlon Davis from Digicel, Carrie Mullings, Sir B, from CHRY, 105.5FM in Toronto, Lexy Brooks, VIP Entertainment Connected and the many, many other guests in the house.

With the successful staging of Irie Jamboree 2008 behind them, the organizers have already started plans for Irie Jamboree 2009. What can they do to top 2008? No one is sure what will be done however word on the street is that the event will moving to a new, more secure venue that can accommodate the large crowd expected in 2009.

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